Guest Blogger Courtney Alev

The New Year always carries with it a sense of optimism and hope. Hope for a new beginning, a fresh start, to put the difficulties and challenges of the last year behind us and move forward strongly and confidently into a new one. It also gives us the opportunities to set goals for ourselves—resolutions—that we want to accomplish in the new year.

I have a love/hate relationship with resolutions, but often do make them. I’ll always remember my 2009 resolutions, when I had just moved to Africa three months prior and was determined to simplify my life (to fit my much more simplified lifestyle—hello, bamboo hut!) I resolved to 1) drink more water, 2) stand up straighter and 3) wear sunscreen. Easy, feasibly goals that to this day I still obey. Other more complicated, challenging resolutions are harder to obey, but simple goals can serve as great motivators.

As 2012 will bring on my second year of actually being a “runner,” I want to set some goals, or “runsolutions,” for the next year. I hope that my attempt at doing so will lend focus and direction to the year. Without further ado, here are my personal running goals for 2012:

  • Break 4 hours in the marathon. This is by far the biggest one. I can run long distances, but I run them slowly. It will take great commitment and perseverance to take 9 minutes off my time this year, but I hope with strength (and the help of friends and Run 365) I will get there.
  • Run 1,500 miles. This number may seem insurmountable to a beginning runner and like child’s play for a more experienced one, but for me personally (and with my work schedule) I’d be very happy with myself to run 1,500 miles in a year.
  • Run up hills—the biggest ones. So I live in San Francisco and run on “hills” all the time, but I avoid the ones that make me feel like death. Twin Peaks, one of the highest points in the city, is 1.3 miles from me. 1.3 miles to one of the most gorgeous views around! But I never run up there. Why? Because 1.3 miles straight up a hill humbles you and throws you to the ground. But it’s in the climbing of hills—be it physical or metaphorical—that we get stronger, and I’m resolving to tackle those head-on instead of retreating in fear.
  • Understand that to run faster you must run faster. Simply put: do speedwork. I HATE running fast. I realize this makes me weird to many people. But I do—I just really hate it. However, I also want to be a faster runner. Which means I have to… run faster. At least once a week. Someone please hold me to this.
  • Believe in myself. I talk down to myself too much. Yes, I’m a midpacker; Yes, I’m unlikely to win an AG award or qualify for Boston; Yes, I’m not really built to be a runner. But who cares? If I truly don’t believe I can run faster/get stronger/be fitter/be happier, then I can’t. It all starts with me. None of the above goals matter if the attitude doesn’t match it.

I can’t wait to work towards being a stronger, more confident, and happier runner—and person—in 2012.

What are YOUR running resolutions for next year?

Courtney Alev is a local San Franciscan residing in the hills of Ashbury Heights. During the day, she can be found working at a tech startup by the ballpark. At other times, you’ll find her running in Golden Gate Park, working on her food and running blog, Pancakes and Postcards, or picking a new neighborhood to explore. She caught the running bug while living in a Mozambican beach village as a Peace Corps Volunteer and frankly didn’t have that much else to do. Her first marathon was in May 2011, which she declared to be a one-time bucket list accomplishment. Within a week after finishing, she signed up for two more. If you want a local running buddy, new friend, or just someone to talk about SF or pancakes with, find her on Facebook or Twitter.